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SETT Survey!

SETT has gotten to the point that I'm spending less time putting out fires and stomping bugs, and more time trying to think about how people are using it and how I can make that better.

As you've probably noticed, I'm working really hard to write two solid blog posts per week, even though my life is consumed with SETT right now. If you could give me back a few minutes of your time to answer this SETT survey, it would really mean a lot to me.


I never fill out surveys online because I sort of imagine that they get sent to the digital equivalent of a dark moldy basement somewhere and never get read. NOT THIS ONE. I will personally be reading every single reply, and will take all feedback very seriously. After all, I'm making SETT to help build communities and give some of the power back to the readers. So if I don't listen to readers... who else can I listen to?

Speaking of which, I feel like I owe a huge debt of gratitude to each of my readers. Just by reading my site and interacting with it, not to mention all the valuable bug reports you've sent me, you've had a huge hand in building SETT. If I didn't have a real live community reading my site, it would be impossible for me to test things out. There have been glitches along the way, and I appreciate everyone having patience. Thank you.

Lessons Learned from the Firestorm of Controversy


Two days ago I wrote the Genius and Tragedy post. It was extremely controversial - very popular on one hand, but got some very strong visceral negative reactions. I'd like to share with you what I've learned about writing, so I can step my game up and improve. Also, I got some downright hateful comments made about me, some really bad and terrible stuff. If this has never happened to you, maybe you don't know what it feels like, and I've got some advice on how to deal with it. I also did some detailed reading and analysis of the kinds of comments I got, and there was some fascinating results that I'll share.

So, first and foremost, I made a mistake - If you're writing to help someone, it can be pretty presumptuous to do it without touching base and clearing it with them first. I made that error for a few reasons - first, two of my best posts have come from the same format, and both achieved their desired objective. ("How do I write so much, you ask?" and "I think greatness is something you do, not something you are" both publicly called people I like out - and both times it worked) - so that's the first thing, I'd had a good track record with this, however those were people I'd been touching base with already.

Second, as a general principal I believe in working really quickly. I analogize it to "fighting out of formation" - quick, lightly edited writing is always worse than well-edited best practices. But, the more you do of it, the better you get at it. And by producing anything really quickly, you get better faster. If someone produces 10 times as much content, how long until their lightly edited work is superior to the other person's highly polished work? This isn't a rhetorical question - check out "Quantity Always Trumps Quality" on codinghorror.com sometime. If you produce quickly and of lower quality at first, you can iterate and improve, and eventually your quick production work is better than the obsessively refined person's work who isn't getting as much done (and thus not learning the lessons). Pablo Picasso talked about this quite a bit, if you're particularly interested on the topic.

The downside, of course, is that you make mistakes. And I did - I should've touched base before writing that post, or had it vetted, or at least, spent more time editing it to be clear, concise, and unambiguous, and even more polite. Mea culpa - my mistake! It's okay for me to work quickly and bring errors upon myself because of it, but I need to be more careful when involving others.

Then, why is that post still up? This is what I wrote as the episode was winding down, it was well-received by the community -

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